Tag Archives: Western Australia

Western Australia invests in new robotics, automation facility

Work has now started on the Australian Automation and Robotics Precinct (AARP) in Neerabup, Western Australia, which will form, the state government claims, one of the biggest test facilities of its kind in the world.

The 51 ha precinct, around 40 km north of Perth, will be a major hub for testing and research into the latest developments in automation, remote operation and robotic systems.

A broad range of industries including mining and resources, defence, oil and gas, agriculture, space, logistics, construction, advanced manufacturing and the education sector are expected to use AARP.

It will provide suppliers and operators of automation and robotics equipment or systems with access to specialist infrastructure including:

  • Common user test beds, with multiple areas and roadways for physical testing;
  • A common user facility operation building; and
  • Supporting research and development facilities.

The McGowan Government committed A$20 million ($14.5 million) towards the precinct as part of its WA Recovery Plan announced last year with the aim of creating jobs and diversifying the economy.

Development of the facility will generate at least 70 construction jobs as the precinct is built over the next three years, and up to 5,000 ongoing jobs in the fields of robotics, automation and remote operations, according to the government.

The facilities will enable companies and researchers the opportunity to accelerate technology and analytics testing and scaling without interrupting on-site production and activities, it says.

The site has the potential to expand to 94 ha to accommodate future growth and will not be sub-divided – remaining a long-term common user facility asset for Western Australia.

An Industry Advisory Group has also been established, while the AARP will collaborate with university and industry research sectors by offering doctoral top-up scholarships for projects that support the Western AustraLIA economy and the precinct’s objectives.

The precinct will also support the resources industry’s bid to transition to net zero carbon status by providing facilities for the testing of new technologies, it says.

Western Australia Innovation and ICT Minister, Don Punch, said: “This exciting precinct represents a A$20 million investment by the McGowan Government in further enhancing Western Australia’s position as a world leader in the growing fields of robotics and automation, and puts us in the best possible position to meet the opportunities and challenges of the future.

“Western Australia is a recognised world leader in the field of automation for the mining sector, and this new facility will see this same success mirrored across a range of industries.

“This builds on the A$100 million Investment Attraction and New Industries Fund announced in the recent State Budget to support and accelerate a range of emerging industries to diversify our economy and deliver the Western Australia jobs of the future.”

Rio Tinto to roll out K2fly’s Ground Disturbance solution across Pilbara ops

K2fly Ltd says Rio Tinto has signed a five-year contract for its Ground Disturbance solution, with the miner planning to roll it out across its iron ore operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The contract will generate annual recurring revenue of A$620,000 ($450,676) over the initial five-year term, the ASX-listed company says.

The addition of Ground Disturbance expands the number of K2fly solutions used by Rio Tinto to five out of K2fly’s nine existing solutions which already include: Resource Inventory & Reconciliation, Dams & Tailings, Community & Heritage and Mine Geology Data Management, K2fly says.

K2fly says its Ground Disturbance solution provides a single source for applying, approving, tracking, reporting and submitting closure of permits and rehabilitation commitments surrounding ground disturbance activities.

Nic Pollock, CEO of K2fly, says: “We are delighted to continue to expand our relationship with Rio Tinto into ground disturbance. Effective ground disturbance systems are the glue for operations that want to ensure technical assurance around land management, maintain licence to operate and ensure high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. We are pleased to be working closely with Rio Tinto across a number of key ESG solutions globally.”

Rio Tinto makes Western Australia Pilbara rail car pledge

Rio Tinto says it is supporting iron ore rail car manufacturing in Western Australia with a commitment to use local suppliers to build ore rail cars for its Pilbara mining operations.

A tender will soon be released to the local market for an initial purchase of 50 ore rail cars, followed by an ongoing commitment of 10 ore cars a year for the next five years.

The tender will be released through the Rio Tinto Buy Local portal, a resource dedicated to making local suppliers aware of opportunities to partner with Rio Tinto and be part of our supply chain, the miner says.

“Western Australia has been an important part of Rio Tinto’s history for more than 50 years as the company built a world-class iron ore business,” it says. “In 2020, the company spent A$7.5 billion ($5.4 billion) with more than 2,000 local businesses based in Western Australia.”

Rio Tinto is also part of the Western Australia Government’s iron ore rail car action group, launched as part of the Western Australia Recovery Plan to develop a competitive iron ore rail car manufacturing industry in Western Australia.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, says: “Building Rio Tinto’s ore rail cars here in Western Australia will support local manufacturing and create jobs for West Australians. Rio Tinto is proud to lead the way in building iron ore rail cars in Western Australia, in line with the vision of state government’s iron ore rail car action group. I look forward to partnering with local businesses to support and grow the local manufacturing industry in Western Australia.

“Ore cars are a critical part of our mining operations and building capacity to manufacture ore cars locally in Western Australia will deliver significant benefits for Rio Tinto and the Western Australian economy.”

Western Australia Premier, Mark McGowan, says: “This is a pleasing outcome and I commend Rio Tinto for taking the first step and committing to our local steel manufacturing industry which will support more jobs for Western Australians. Rio Tinto’s commitment is a positive result off the back of the state government’s independent prefeasibility study, which identified initiatives for the manufacture, refurbishment and maintenance of iron ore railcar wagons.

“This was about securing an ongoing pipeline of work for the long-term manufacture of iron ore wagons and critical rail wagon parts, which will deliver jobs and economic benefit for the state into the future. Rio Tinto’s purchase of Western Australian made railcars that will be used right here in our state is something I encourage other iron ore companies operating in Western Australia to get on board with and increase local content and local jobs.”

Redpath on board with Red 5’s Darlot, King of the Hills plan

Red 5 Ltd has awarded a mine development contract for its Darlot gold mine in Western Australia to Redpath Australia.

The contract, which has been awarded following the completion of a competitive tender process, is for 12 months with an option to extend at six-monthly intervals. The initial contract value is A$13 million ($9 million) and will be funded by cash flow from the Darlot operations.

The Redpath mining team and equipment have mobilised at site and underground mine development commenced on October 1, 2021.

Consistent with the revised Darlot mine plan and King of the Hills processing hub strategy announced on August 2, 2021 – which will see Darlot ore processed at the King of the Hills processing plant – Redpath will be undertaking 3 km of rapid underground mine development at Darlot, separate from the mining activities being conducted by Red 5’s existing mining teams. This will provide access to new mine areas in Burswood, Pedersen, Middle Waters South and Thompson that underpin Darlot’s current mine plan to June 2023, Red 5 says.

The option to extend the mine development contract would open further additional mining areas within Darlot’s 1.2 Moz underground mineral resource, the company says.

The recently announced transition strategy for Darlot will see it become an underground satellite mine to the King of the Hills Processing Hub, with the new processing plant expected to produce first gold in the June Quarter 2022. It will also see the processing capacity rise from the previously envisaged 4 Mt/y (for solely King of the Hills ore) to 4.7 Mt/y.

The investment in mine development at Darlot is a key aspect of the transition strategy at Darlot, reducing dependence on remnant mining and opening up new mine areas, the company says.

“The lower cost base of the King of the Hills processing hub has the potential to extend the Darlot underground mine life for several years,” it added.

Austin to supply NRW Civil & Mining with 16 ULTIMA truck bodies

Austin Engineering says it has secured a A$7 million ($5 million) agreement to supply 16 locally-made truck bodies to Australia-based mining contractor NRW Civil & Mining, a unit of NRW Holdings.

Austin and NRW marked the award with a steel plate cutting ceremony for the first of the ULTIMA truck bodies to be manufactured on site at Austin’s Kewdale facility, which is co-located with the company’s new corporate headquarters in Western Australia.

In addition to representatives from Austin, the ceremony was attended by NRW CEO, Jules Pemberton, and other NRW representatives, along with Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia Chief Executive Officer, Paul Everingham.

NRW is an arm of Australian diversified contract services provider NRW Holdings, which services the resources and infrastructure sectors in Australia. Its services include civil construction, bulk earthworks, road and rail construction and concrete installation, contract mining and drill and blast services.

NRW has ordered 16 ULTIMA high performance truck bodies and two 6060 Face Shovel buckets from Austin, which will be manufactured at Austin’s Kewdale site over the coming months.

Austin’s Kewdale facility is one of two of the company’s major manufacturing sites in the Asia Pacific region, the other being in Indonesia. The company is investing A$6.5 million to implement advanced manufacturing processes and capabilities at these sites, including increased automation and the use of custom jigs, fixtures, workstations and a standardised manufacturing approach to building product.

The Kewdale facility will receive the first manufacturing upgrade, which will benefit customers, such as NRW, and enhance the company’s supply of Western Australian-made dump truck bodies and other hauling and loading products, Austin says.

Austin Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, David Singleton, said: “We are extremely pleased to sign this contract with NRW, one of Australia’s leading mining contractors. The contract adds to a solid order book for Austin. Our recent strategic review demonstrated the opportunity to upgrade our manufacturing facilities to increase production efficiency while enhancing product quality and operator safety. We are the leading designer of truck bodies in the world, and intend to be the most efficient too.”

CR and KBSS collaborate on conveyor system deployments in the Pilbara

CR has announced a new partnership with KBSS to bring CR’s custom-made conveyor systems to the Pilbara of Western Australia.

KBSS is now CR’s Pilbara-based partner for mining conveyor systems, a company fully ISO accredited to Quality Management Systems, with, CR says, a reputation for delivering safe, reliable and cost-effective outcomes.

As part of the partnership, CR will be providing engineering and technical support, including on-site support, while KBSS will be looking after installation and maintenance services.

CR Business Development Manager, Paul Shankley, said: “When CR was searching for partners to bring our mining conveyor systems to the Pilbara, KBSS was the obvious pick. We both continually strive for Zero Harm whilst taking pride in bringing high-quality solutions to the global mining industry. CR are excited to collaborate with KBSS.”

CR’s mining conveyor systems are designed to maximise performance, minimise maintenance requirements and reduce total cost of ownership. Its range of conveyor components and accessories includes belt cleaning systems; belt stabilising kits; conveyor pulley lagging; conveyor skirting systems; and conveyor belt trackers.

The company said: “Our conveyor systems are designed for mines. They decrease lost product, reduce carry back, and minimise dust and spillage.”

Steinert XRT ore sorter testing shows promise at Northern Minerals rare earth project

Northern Minerals Ltd has progressed its ore sorting project enhancement initiative with the commissioning and testing of the Steinert sorter system, and is now producing ore sorted material and converting this to a 30% total rare earth oxide (TREO) concentrate in its’ Browns Range beneficiation plant in Western Australia.

Northern Minerals’ CEO, Mark Tory, said: “The construction, commissioning and testing of the ore sorter circuit marks another milestone in the development of the Browns Range project.

“The positive bulk sample tests confirm the effectiveness of the ore sorting circuit on the Wolverine ore to significantly increase the head grade to the mill which is expected to result in higher production rates and lower operating costs for a full-scale operation at Browns Range.

“It’s also pleasing to see the initial ore sorting tests the Banshee ore showing promise which, if shown to be effective in future tests, has potential to significantly increase the Browns Range mineral resource estimate.”

He added: “Being able to test and operate the ore sorting circuit in conjunction with the pilot beneficiation plant is providing extremely valuable data that you just can’t get from small bench-scale tests and this will feed into our feasibility study for a potential commercial scale heavy rare earth operation at Browns Range.”

The ore sorter system was constructed during 2020 and 2021 and commissioned in June 2021. The sorter that was installed is a 2-m wide Steinert sorter that uses X-ray Transmission (XRT) and laser detectors to identify rare earth mineralisation.

The sorter has been run over two test campaigns, which included 41 test runs processing 5,300 t of ore from the run of mine stockpiles largely coming from Wolverine ore, and five test runs on Banshee ore that was bulk sampled from a surface costean that provided 285 t of Banshee ore.

The tests have confirmed that simultaneous sorting of two size fractions is possible on the sorter, allowing a single machine to sort both sortable size fractions (10 mm-25 mm and 25 mm-75 mm), Northern Minerals says. The sortable fraction (>10 mm material) of Wolverine ore can be successfully sorted (90% TREO recovery in 50% of the mass) and, when combined with non-sortable fines, achieves a 45% grade increase to the mill and over 95% TREO recovery when feeding a 0.9% TREO ore.

The sorter system is now being run to produce feed for the beneficiation plant and 4,479 t of Wolverine ore have been processed through the ore sorter circuit to the end of August. Processing of the Wolverine ore sorted material in the beneficiation plant has resulted in better recoveries in the magnetic separation plant and flotation plant compared with feeding unsorted ore, the company says. A bulk sample of 50 t of 30% TREO rare earth concentrate has being produced for test work by facilities identified with likely future capability and capacity to process the heavy rare earth xenotime concentrate produced at Browns Range.

Bulks sample tests have highlighted some key factors to consider for ore sorting that cannot be determined at bench scale using vendor equipment in laboratory settings. Understanding the impact of these factors is critical to including an ore sorting circuit in a full-scale processing facility.

Initial sorting tests of the Banshee ore have shown that the highly oxidised surface material contains a large fines fraction and that the grade of the sortable fraction (ie >10 mm) can be doubled recovering more than 60% of the TREO in 25% of the mass. An additional bulk sample is being extracted from deeper in the costean and three diamond drill holes are being drilled for further test work.

The bulk ore sorting test work is a key input for the full-scale beneficiation plant feasibility study currently underway, which will also leverage off the substantial technical, operational and economic data from the R&D test work at the Browns Range Pilot Plant since 2018, the company says.

MACA wins 12-month extension at Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora lithium project

MACA Ltd has announced the extension of its mining services contract with Pilbara Minerals for a further 12 months at the Pilgangoora lithium project, in Western Australia, following Pilbara Minerals exercise of its 12-month option.

The Pilgangoora project consists of open-pit mining services including drilling and blasting and loading and hauling, and the extension is expected to generate approximately A$70 million ($51 million) in revenue for MACA over the 12-month term through to November 2022. MACA’s work in hand position as of September 21 is A$3.1 billion, it says.

MACA CEO, Mike Sutton, said “MACA is very pleased to be able to continue working with Pilbara Minerals at the Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project, having commenced operations on site in 2017. We strongly value the collaborative working relationship established with the Pilbara Minerals team over the previous four years and are proud to be an ongoing part of this project.

“For MACA, this extension secures our strong position in the Pilbara region and also provides continued involvement in the lithium industry.”

Macmahon Holdings finalises Calidus Warrawoona gold project contract

Macmahon Holdings Ltd says it has now finalised a mining services contract with Calidus Resources Ltd for the Warrawoona gold project in Western Australia.

The news follows Macmahon’s selection as the preferred contractor for the project in 2020.

This contract involves the development of a new open-pit mine in the Pilbara region, with the scope of work for Macmahon expected to include all open-pit mining activities until December 2026. Macmahon anticipates the contract will generate revenue of approximately A$210 million ($154 million).

This contract is in addition to the early-stage civil works Macmahon is currently undertaking on site with 65 personnel. The company expects the main mining equipment to arrive on site in the March quarter of 2022, with the project to eventually employ around 120 Macmahon personnel.

Macmahon CEO and Managing Director, Michael Finnegan, said: “We are delighted to finalise this mining contract with Calidus Resources for its Warrawoona gold project, which follows on from the civil work we are currently undertaking on site. This contract will add approximately A$210 million to our order book and is a welcome addition to our growing portfolio of Western Australian gold projects. We have built a strong relationship with the Calidus team since we commenced on site earlier this year and look forward to developing this project with them.”

GR Engineering captures A$90 million of EPC contracts from Galena Mining

GR Engineering Services has been given the notice to proceed with the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of a 1.2 Mt/y lead sulphide flotation processing plant at Galena Mining Limited’s majority-owned Abra base metals project in Western Australia.

The contract, which follows a conditional agreement from February 2020, comes with a value of A$79.5 million ($59 million) to be realised predominantly in GR Engineering’s 2022 financial year.

In addition, Abra Mining has also awarded GR Engineering an EPC contract to relocate, refurbish and commission the Abra Mining-owned Higginsville paste plant. The value of this contract is a further A$10 million.

Geoff Jones, Managing Director, said: “GR Engineering looks forward to continuing its solid working relationship with the Abra Mining team on the delivery of the project and supporting Abra Mining as it becomes the next Australian base metals producer.”